Miles today: 23.3
Miles total: 2071.9
Miles total: 2071.9
Currently sitting at the picnic table...
After arriving at the NOC so late last night, I permitted myself time to sleep in. I didn't even wake up once until 7, and even then I went back to sleep. There was no point in getting an early start; nothing around there opened until 9 AM. I thought I might be able to do laundry early, but the only detergent available was from the outfitter and I didn't have quarters for the machine anyway. It was actually really nice to take my time getting ready in the morning without every second counting. I took the time to make coffee and hang out in the dining room before moseying over to the main office. I was still early, so I sat outside the outfitter like a puppy. The guy in charge explained that they were training someone and that they would be late opening up. I ran across the street to the general store to buy most of my food before checking back in. By that time, the outfitter was open. I waited (I hope patiently) as the main guy explained to the trainee how to ring me up as well as every other possible aspect of the checkout computer. By the time I had my laundry started, it was 9:30. The silver lining here was that I had found a couple off delicious-looking frozen burritos in the general store, so I had plenty of time to microwave and savor them. I also allotted a healthy amount of time to yelling at the washing machine to be done. By the time I had changed into my dry clothes, it was almost 11. I consoled myself with the thought that I wouldn't get done any later than last night. I hiked into the woods from the NOC feeling a little bit sad that I couldn't have stayed longer. It seems like a really cool place, not just for hikers but for kayakers and fisherman and apparently for underwater rescue teams. I saw them practicing while wearing wetsuits.
I started off with my last big climb of the whole trip. It's getting a little sad to recognize I'm doing things for the last time. Nostalgia usually hits me pretty hard; just a forewarning. There wasn't much to say about the day. I hiked quickly to beat nightfall this time, stopping only for lunch at Cold Spring Shelter. After that, I popped in my ear buds for some music. First it was Coldplay since I'd had a few of their songs stuck in my head for a while. That was over pretty quickly, and I don't like reaching back for my phone to pick out new music all the time, so I chose to listen to Radiohead's 2.5 hour Bonnaroo set from last year. I wasn't disappointed, and I have no idea where the time went. I was up around 5000 feet quite a bit today, a luxury I won't enjoy for much longer. In fact, a day hiker on Wayah Bald thought I might have been standing on the highest point for the rest of the trail. I think he was right. Georgia's highest point, Blood Mountain, is only around 4400 feet. It's all downhill from here, right?? Wrong. Radiohead closed their set right as I embarked on the climb up to Siler Bald. It was really gentle, a kind gesture by the trail at the end of my day. The shelter unfortunately lies a good distance off the AT...miles I don't get credit for. I grumbled as I walked down the side trail. But there are things to be happy about, like having only 114 miles to go! I'm projecting a Sunday finish unless I take a zero or cut a day short. Five days of hiking remain...
Pictures: stuff around the NOC; a couple views from a very worthwhile trip up a lookout tower.